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Best Smart Tech Tools: How to Work From Home Like a Boss in 2020

Written by | Updated March 20, 2020

So you’re working from home. Whether this is a dream-come-true or more of a nightmare scenario for you, there’s a whole world full of smart tech that can make your work-from-home weeks awesome (or at least bearable).

We’ve pulled together practical gadgets and a few extravagant splurges depending on how much you want to double-down on the work-from-home experience.

We know that most of us don’t have the money to suddenly deck out a full-blown home office, so we looked for budget-friendly solutions first.

1. Create a Work Space

To stay productive and on task, you need a solid work-from-home setup. Here are some home office essentials—whether you’re putting together a permanent office or simply trying to survive the quarantine.

Bathtub laptop caddy with two laptops on a bed

My work-from-home setup on the Elite Creations laptop caddy (ignoring my own advice to avoid propping up in bed!). 

Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse

Don’t worry about wrangling all those wires across the dining room table. A wireless mouse and keyboard make working from home less tangled and totally portable.

Artek HB0308 Universal Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

This affordable wireless keyboard comes in around $20 and boasts a six-month battery life. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, Mac OS, and Windows—plus it comes with seven fun backlight colors.

TeckNet 2600DPI Bluetooth Wireless Mouse

Click with freedom thanks to this Bluetooth wireless mouse that comes with a year-long battery life. You can pick it up for about $17, but you need to purchase the two required AAA batteries separately.

Laptop Desk

It might sound comfy to plop on the couch with your laptop, but it’s not the most efficient way to get things done. Thankfully, there are a lot of good desk options that don’t require you to assemble furniture or clear out the spare room.

Sofia + Sam Oversized Memory Foam Lap Desk 

This little desk has plenty of room for a 20″ laptop and a mouse. It comes with a detachable USB light and built-in memory foam wrist support to keep carpal tunnel at bay. You can pick it up on Amazon for under $45, and it has free Prime shipping.

Rocketbook Smart Notebook and Pen

Say goodbye to paper waste with this smart pen and notebook—and (if you’re like us) take a break from kitty and puppy helpers inserting their two cents on your keyboard.

  • Reuse notebook again and again
  • Upload notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, email, and more
  • Use smart search to scan notes
  • Starts around $30

Seville Classics Adjustable Mobile Laptop Desk Cart

You don’t have to give up your standing desk when you pick up this adjustable laptop cart. Adjust the desk from 20.5″ to 33″ with a simple twist-lock knob.

It also has wheels to move easily from room to room—a great perk if you’re sharing space at home with others who are working remotely or kids that are home from school. Get it for less than $35 on Amazon.

Elite Creations Bathtub Caddy & Laptop Desk

If you’re like me (or Stephen Colbert), working from home sometimes involves a bubble bath. This expandable bathtub laptop caddy works great while in the tub, on the sofa, or lounging in bed.

With so many folks working from home, it’s smart to have a desk option that works virtually anywhere in your house. Best of all, you can get this pampering laptop desk for less than $50.

WFH Expert Hack
Grey striped Kangaroo anti-fatigue floor mat in semi-circle shape

Kangaroo Anti Fatigue Floor Mat

Whether you pick up a standing desk or work at the kitchen bar, this floor mat ensures that your back has the support it needs.

  • Slip-resistant bottom
  • 16 colors and designs
  • Non-toxic and phthalate free
  • Starts around $40

Hubs and Surge Protectors 

Our homes aren’t always equipped to handle the demands of multiple devices that need power, charging, USB ports, and more. Ditch the aggravation (and low battery warnings) with these handy helpers.

HooToo USB-C Hub 6-in-1 Network Adapter

Get instant connection for multiple devices with this 6-in-1 USB-C hub. Expand your Mac’s potential with fast charging, HDMI output, and an SD card slot—all for under $40.

Cable Matters Surge Protector 2-Pack 

You’ll stop fighting over outlets when you snag these affordable surge protector power strips. There’s room to plug in six devices on each strip, plus two USB charging ports. Get the two-pack for around $25.


WFH Expert Hack
Image of Anker wireless phone charging pad

Anker Wireless Charger

The last thing you need is more wires to wrestle. This wireless charging pad lets you keep your phone full of power without the tether of a cord.

  • Works with Galaxy, iPhone, Note, and Pixel phones
  • Charges through phone case
  • Charges 10% faster than other brands

Computer Monitor 

Once you’re used to working on multiple monitors it’s nearly impossible to go back to a laptop screen. With these extra monitors, you don’t have to settle for less.

ViewSonic 22-Inch HD 1080p LED Monitor 

Add this monitor to your home office setup for under $200. It doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, but it gets the job done for a reasonable price. It supports laptops, Macs, PCs, and POS systems with both VGA and HDMI inputs.

Sceptre 27-Inch 4K Ultra HD Monitor

If you want to upgrade your monitor, this 4K monitor from Sceptre comes with built-in speakers, and a “Blue Light Shift” that’s easier on your eyes. Whether you have to dazzle in a presentation or take a gaming break, this $200 monitor delivers the crisp, high resolution picture you need.

Office Chair

Plopping down on the couch, sitting all day on a dining room chair, or propping yourself up in bed aren’t ideal working conditions. You’ll improve your productivity (and avoid aches and pains) with one of these office chair solutions.

Furmax Swivel Office Chair

This adjustable office chair comes with ergonomic lumbar support and it won’t break the bank. Give your back the support it needs for around $50.

AmazonBasics Modern Desk Chair

If you’re looking for style, this attractive desk chair adds polish to your home office for under $85 (depending on color choice). Its sleek design is small and contemporary. The seat and backrest are padded for comfort, but it doesn’t have lumbar support or arm rests.


WFH Expert Hack
image of Purple brand Royal Seat Cushion

Purple Royal Seat Cushion

If you don’t want to purchase a new piece of furniture, upgrade your existing desk or dining chair with a supportive cushion from Purple.

  • Cradles your body
  • Minimizes pressure points
  • Supports 5 to 8 hours of sitting
  • Ranges from $39 to $129

2. Stay Connected

Setting up an office space is one thing, but actually doing your work from home comes with its own challenges. Fortunately, there are a bunch of tech solutions available that make it easy to stay connected with coworkers, conduct meetings, and keep collaboration going.

Video Conferencing

There are a lot of tools that let you meet with colleagues and customers face to face—even if we’re all quarantined to our homes. Most of these solutions have free options or affordable packages for companies of all sizes.

Zoom screenshot of woman in front of moonscape background
Zoom screenshot of upside down man in front of Golden Gate Bridge background

Using virtual backgrounds in Zoom to liven up our morning video meeting.

Zoom 

This is one of the most popular video conferencing tools because it offers a multitude of features and plans based on your company’s specific needs. If you’re a consultant or freelancer and want to host personal meetings with clients, you can use the free version. For larger organizations, Zoom starts at just $20 a month per host.

Zoom is also making its tools available for free to schools during the coronavirus outbreak.

Skype

Skype offers video conferencing options for individuals and businesses. Sixty minutes of video conferencing are included with a personal Microsoft Office 365 subscription, and businesses can use Skype for Business starting at only $2 per month per user.

Screen shot of Skype account

A screenshot of what your very own Skype account could look like. I obviously don’t use it enough—there’s almost always 60 minutes left in my account.

Google Hangouts

For smaller organizations or occasional one-off meetings, Google Hangouts is a smart solution—especially if you already use the G-Suite. The cost varies depending on your G-Suite subscription, starting at $6 per month per user. Hangouts also has instant messaging, making it a multipurpose solution.

GoToMeeting 

This was one of the first video conferencing tools, and it’s still a solid option. One thing that makes GoToMeeting stand out is the meeting transcription feature—no more pesky note-taking! GoToMeeting prices range between $14 per month for up to 10 people and $29 per month for as many as 150.

Instant Messaging

You don’t have to be in the same building to collaborate on projects or engage in some good, old-fashioned water cooler chats. These IM apps let you gab, gossip, and generate creative ideas right from your computer or smartphone.

Slack

You can use this instant messaging app on your PC, laptop, or phone. Create unique channels with specific members and directly message individuals or groups. Plus, even though it’s not a video conferencing tool, you can make individual video calls directly from the app.

In addition to instant communication, Slack makes it easy to share files, Spotify playlists, and funny gifs to help your team feel more connected when you can’t be in the same room. Pricing ranges from around $7 per month to $12.50, depending on the size of your organization and the features you want.

Screen shot of gifs posted in a slack direct message

A screenshot from my Slack account—sharing WFH gifs with myself among other quarantine musings.

Troop Messenger

This relative newcomer is a more affordable option than Slack and includes many of the same features. You can choose from three plans that all include voice and video as well as instant chat. Troop Messenger’s rates range from $1 to $5 per month per user.

3. Practice Self-Care

It might seem like taking care of yourself is a no-brainer when you work from home. After all, what could be better than working in your pajamas all day?

But the quarantine realities of isolation and being homebound can take a toll. Use these tools and ideas to keep your spirits, your body, and your sanity in good shape.

selfie with rock on symbol

Me rocking out in my bedroom office.

Do a Little Dance

Music is a great mood lifter. Whether you take a dance break every hour to keep the blood pumping or create a work-from-home playlist with your team on Spotify, the right tune can help you feel focused and connected to others.

Here are a few playlists to get you inspired.
Quarantine Vibes
Work Playlist (Clean/Non-Explicit)
Coffee Shop Chill
Lo-Fi Beats
Classical Focus


WFH Expert Hack
Image of black COWIN E7 PRO headphones

COWIN E7 Pro Headphones

If your midday jig will disrupt others in your home, use these headphones to get in the groove. Best of all, they also cancel out noise made by your roomie, significant other, or kiddos so you can focus.

  • $80 to $95 depending on color
  • 30+ hours playtime
  • 18-month warranty

Keep Headaches Away

Staring at a screen all day wreaks havoc on your eyes and your brain. Here are some tools to keep you from reaching for the pain reliever.

MEETSUN Blue Light Blocking Glasses 

Say goodbye to eye strain with these durable glasses that are designed to block that pesky blue light. Grab a two-pack for under $20.

CrazyCap UV Water Purifier Self-Cleaning Water Bottle

When you can’t run out to the store for new water filters, stay safely hydrated with this reusable water bottle. The cap has a built-in UV light to sanitize drinking water and stop mold and bacteria in their tracks.

In this time where the germs are out to get us, a bottle like this for everyone in the family isn’t a bad idea. Get your CrazyCap bottle for $70 on Amazon.


WFH Expert Hack
Image of black Ember smart mug and coaster

Ember Smart Mug

We all know that caffeine can help curb headaches. Replace the coffee you used to grab in the breakroom with a tasty homebrewed cup that stays hot all morning. This smart mug lets you set the exact temperature you want and keeps it there.

  • Priced around $80
  • Full charge heats for one hour
  • Charging coaster heats all day

Take a Break

If you felt like a workaholic at the office every day, it’s even harder to disengage from work when you suddenly share a house with it. Use these tips to make sure you don’t overextend yourself while working from home.

Set a Routine

Continue to work regular hours. That means a hard start time and a hard stop time. Let your colleagues or clients know your hours and then stick to it. It also helps to have a morning routine that kicks off the day.

Instead of lounging in bed an extra half hour because there’s no more commute, get up and savor a healthy breakfast, warm cup of tea, or extra facetime with your family. Then get dressed (even if it’s into work pajamas), run a comb through your hair, and get to work.

Meditate

It’s important to clear your mind and enjoy some focused me-time. Use a meditation app to help you unplug from work and transition back to normal home life. This also helps keep anxiety in check if you can’t peel your eyes away from all the pandemic headlines.

man meditating in bedroom

Move

Whether it’s stretching, yoga, pushups, or a jog around the block, moving your body is crucial. If you used to go to the gym every morning, find a replacement fitness routine that you can do while you’re stuck at home.

You should also schedule movement breaks throughout the day. A Fitbit or Apple Watch can give you hourly reminders that it’s time to get your blood pumping.

Have a Little Fun

Don’t forget to cut loose every once in a while. Use FaceTime or another video app for a virtual lunch break, socially-distanced happy hour, or game of trivia with your pals.

Staying connected when you’re restricted to one place will make a huge difference—to your personal well-being and your work productivity.

Disclaimer 

Amazon.com list price as of 03/20/2020 02:56 (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more

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